Isolation of Infertility

I wrote the following poem in order to process the many feelings that overcame me as I suffered through multiple miscarriages and infertility.
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Arc

Grey shocks, after such a blue summer.

The plot lines turn hazy like this weather.

The arc of her narrative is too clean

like a windexed mirror.

She can see each slanted moment—sharp

and experimental.

It is a study of becoming a mother,

interrupted.

Her body deceiving itself.

Throughout July the doctors describe her as unlucky,

as if it was as simple as not winning a prize in a raffle,

or the sweater she wanted to buy being sold out in her size.

In August, they chalk up the miscarriages to unfortunate occurrences,

like unexpected houseguests, or finding out she has less money

than she thought in her bank account.

Language does that, plays tricks,

veils meaning,

limits the experience, to lure her to hide

deep inside it

with nowhere to go, nothing to do but swallow

and let fade.

But it persists,

all the quiet

what she is left with, is what is no longer there.

Visible absence, unimpressive

it makes so much sound.

There was such a loud silence inside of me and surrounding me during this time. The silence was stifling and strangling and was shaped by the isolation I felt from everyone, especially myself. I was consumed by and tangled up in multiple emotions but I self-consciously hid in silence. Initially, I could not share the heartbreak, the unfulfilled desires, the shame of not having any concrete answers as to why this was happening, the guilt of the losses, the fears, the feelings of worthlessness, the exhaustion of holding out hope, and the crash that came over me of hopelessness. Despite my training as a therapist, educator, and contemplative writer my experiences with infertility and multiple pregnancy losses created the most damaging predicament which was, keeping the silence inside of me and letting it consume me.

Another contributor to my silence was the pervasive message of “stay positive culture.” This is a popular social message for women undergoing fertility. The message is to simply relax, stay calm, and practice self-care rituals. While relaxation and positive thinking are excellent for everyone, this message puts women under pressure that somehow they are responsible, that they are not doing enough, that they need to consume certain and more and more products. This message does not allow women to feel through their feelings fully. This quieting of the negative messaging actually protects, censors and polices women from a range of difficult emotions and the actual experiences they are going through.  As a therapist and a woman who has endured multiple losses, I stress that women need to allow themselves to experience, process, feel, and move their way through in their own manner and in their own time.

However, what ultimately rescued me from my silent isolation was when the time felt right I consulted with and received care from Traditional Medicine Doctors. For me, it was Erin Flynn and later Spence Pentland who are both TCM doctors at Yinstill Reproductive wellness. Their kind guidance, vitamin protocol, and acupuncture treatments made me feel back in control of my body, both calmer in body and mind and cared for holistically. In conjunction, I decided to have regular therapeutic sessions with my own therapeutic/academic advisor Dr. Clark who I would speak with about all other personal issues and academic and practical issues. I also started to write about infertility regularly in order to not only make sense of my experiences but to connect with myself again.

I am now seven and a half years removed from this time. I use my personal experiences with infertility and reproductive losses to inform my professional practice and stress the importance of examining, uncovering, and ultimately taking the emotional impact of infertility out of hiding and isolation. My general aim as a therapist for tweens, adolescents, and adults who identify as women are to meet them where they are. Through my client-centred, feminist, collaborative narrative, trauma-informed approach and expressive arts, contemplative writing, and mindfulness practices I support women.

In the context of women navigating their fertility landscape, my aim is to be a supportive sounding board for articulation and sharing of all the many emotions that come with their experiences. I stress that no emotion is wrong. These emotions and issues can include but are no means the only ones: excitement to hopelessness, anxiety, depression, body shame, feeling that their body is hijacked, anger, fear, guilt, pre-occupation, relationship strain, relationship issues, loneliness, aloneness, isolation with oneself and others.

I currently offer an online group therapeutic circle Weaving Comfort in partnership with Yinstill Reproductive, as well as individual one on one therapeutic sessions. My general aim is to encourage emotional openness, lessen the hurts, and lay one’s burden down vis-a-vis self-compassion, contemplative writing, expressive, mindfulness and other connective exercises.

Abby is the founder of Threads Education and Counselling. She can be reached at [email protected] 6043512807 and on Instagram @threads_education

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